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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, May 31, 2019 12 months ago

Osceola Elementary pet food drive benefits Sophie's Circle

This is the first year the school has hosted a pet food drive for this nonprofit rescue.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Osceola Elementary School students demonstrated empathy for rescue animals before classes wrapped up for the summer by donating pet food for Sophie's Circle, a local nonprofit rescue that also operates a pet food pantry. 

“The kids loved it," said Jennifer Lastinger, media specialist at the school. "And the majority of food that came in was from students that just love animals.”

Fifth grader Gwynn Clay brings in a large bag of dog food. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lastinger

This is the first year Lastinger hosted the food drive, and she waived lost book fees for students who brought in donations. She used this as a way to promote the drive, as well as give the children an opportunity to be responsible, Lastinger said.

As someone with two rescue cats and one dog, Sophie's Circle's cause is close to her heart.

“It was kind of a win-win," Lastinger said. "I was like, you know what? Let’s do this."

The donation is a big help to the nonprofit, said Ormond Beach resident Dana Conway of Sophie's Circle. The foster-based organization is run entirely by volunteers, and it rescues about 500 dogs a year from high-kill shelters, the streets and owners who surrender their pets. Sophie's Circle's pet food pantry is located in New Smyrna Beach, and every week, it helps owners who may be struggling with finances feed their pets. 

Dana Conway, along with Nikki Porter and Nancy Keck, have authored "Bad Dog, Good Dog." Photo by Jarleene Almenas

“We could be providing food to so many of those people, and they wouldn’t be giving away their animals because of this," said Conway, who is a former Osceola Elementary teacher.

Sophie's Circle has 35 dogs in foster care homes, as well as some cats. One day, it hopes to open a shelter. 

“It’s definitely a whole team effort," Conway said.

Conway, along with Nancy Keck and Nikki Porter, have also authored a book titled "Bad Dog, Good Dog," which they have sent to Ellen Degeneres in the hopes to be featured on her show. 

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